Leonard Nimoy, the actor who endeared himself to millions with his portrayal of Spock, the ultra-logical half-human, half-Vulcan first mate in the Star Trek franchise, died on Friday morning at his home in Bel Air, California. He was 83.
Nimoy was a poet, a director, a writer, a singer and a photographer, but he'll be remembered most for his decades-long performance as a man caught between two (literal) worlds. The connection Nimoy developed with Spock became one of the most important relationships in his life. "Spock is definitely one of my best friends," he told Starlog in 1989. "When I put on those ears, it's not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special."
The relationship between a flesh-and-blood Bostonian (who once described himself as feeling "alien" in Hollywood) and a half-alien science officer searching for his place in the universe resulted in some of the most iconic moments in the history the small screen. Beyond Spock's legendary logic, however, was Nimoy's wisdom. His intelligence and wit, admired by generations of fans, will live on long after the beloved character he helped create.
On appreciating the best parts of life
"I had an embarrassing experience once, many years ago. I was invited to go to Caltech and was introduced to a number of very brilliant young people who were working on interesting projects .... And they'd say to me, 'What do you think?' (expecting me to have some very sound advice). And I would nod very quietly and very sagely I would say, 'You're on the right track.'"
On being "Spock Prime"
"I kind of like it! It gives a dignified presentation of the character."
"The camera can capture thought in a way that's quite surprising and shocking. You can become very simple and minimal in your work and communicate a lot with just a finger or an eyebrow, or a look, or a glance."
On first meeting Barack Obama
"There was a very small crowd — minuscule compared to the crowd that he gathered later — at a private home in Los Angeles. And we were standing on the back patio, waiting for him. And he came through the house, saw me and immediately put his hand up in the Vulcan gesture. He said, 'They told me you were here.' We had a wonderful, brief conversation and I said, 'It would be logical if you would become president.'"
On finding your "secret self"
"I tend to think that my 'secret self' has been played out in a lot of my performances as an actor. I have been there and done it. There's not much that has not been revealed in some of my acting work and in the roles that I've played. I've played all kinds of people: some good people, some bad people, some confused people, some smart people, some useful people, some useless people. ... Sexuality has been a factor in my work. Physical appearance has been a factor. I really think I've acted it out in my acting work."
On "live long and prosper" and its Jewish roots
"Oh, my. The simplest would be to say, 'Languh yoren osta lebn.' It's a typical Yiddish expression. Parents say it to their kids. It means, 'You should live many years.' "
On Star Trek
"It's all about trying to make the world and the universe a better place. I'm proud to be connected with it. I think we need that in our lives. We need ethical, heroic people trying to do the right thing to help others and to improve life on this planet and in the universe."
On saying goodbye
"When it was first suggested to me that Spock would die, I was hesitant. It seemed exploitative. But now that I've seen how it was accomplished, I think it was a very good idea."
In character as Spock in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Nimoy said, "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end." If Spock was his beginning, Nimoy reached the end with his rich life filled with wisdom.